Total to begin shale drilling this quarter

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Total Austral, the Argentine subsidiary of French oil major Total (NYSE: TOT), is planning to start drilling shale formations on its Aguada Pinchana and San Roque licenses in the Neuquén basin before the end of the year, the firm's director of business development Petter Undem told BNamericas.

"Those two blocks have shale potential, and we have a program for drilling wells this year and continuing next year, depending on results," Undem said on the sidelines of the IAPG Interactive Energy Congress in Buenos Aires.

At least two wells are planned for the remainder of this year, with up to 10 more possible over the course of 2012, Undem added.

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Total is the operator of both the Aguada Pichana and San Roque licenses with 27.27% and 24.7% interests respectively. Argentine firms YPF, Pan American Energy and German company Wintershall are partners in the blocks.

Total is the latest in a line of firms including Apache and YPF to spud wells in Argentina targeting shale formations.

The firm, alongside YPF, acquired 40-45% interests in four more shale-rich licenses, Aguada de Castro, Pampa las Yeguas III, Cerro las Minas and Cerro Partido.

Overall, Total Austral holds interests in 13 licenses across the Neuquén basin as well as acreage in the Malvinas basin off the coast of southern Tierra del Fuego province which it operates through the CMA-1 E&P contract.